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  • Writer's pictureSam Hageman

Road Trip: The Continental US, Part Five the Pacific Coast.

15,000 miles, 48 states, 42 tanks of gas, 34 days, 2 cars, 1 engagement.

June 19, 2017

(48) Kings Canyon National Park, California:

When we woke up, we went to shower, but the restrooms were awful here. They were disgusting, no lights worked, & they were very dirty. The campsites were mostly on slanted hills but included a bear box. Dogs are also not allowed in most of the park., only campgrounds & roads. Overall, we regretted staying here & probably would not again.

(49) San Francisco/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California:

We headed 3 hours north to San Francisco. Garrett had previously been there, but never truly explored. We hit a local food truck spot, known as District Six/SoMa StrEat Food Park, where we enjoyed Ramen & Mexican from two of the food trucks. The area was dog friendly allowing Dexter to hang out with us as we ate. We were a bit jealous that we do not have more spots like this in Metro-Detroit, because it rocked having so many food options & an outdoor space to eat/hang out. Once we finished up, we headed to Golden Gate National Recreation Area to catch the sunset.

Our drive there was awful. Not only because of traffic, but also when we found a gas station to fill up there were tons of people trying to get in after we did, blocking the two entrances/exits. We had a lady scream at us to move as we pumped gas so she could get in a parking spot to go in the gas station. However, karma got her back when she went to leave & was blocked in by multiple people while we backed out. We thankfully were able to get out, but honestly just that short drive in San Francisco (plus the highway driving that day) proved California drivers are one of the worst in the continental 48 states.


Golden Gate National Recreation area is accessible by the Golden Gate Bridge & has acres to explore. However, dogs are only allowed on 1% of the land. It does offer some off-leash dog beaches, but pay attention to the rules & where your pup can go when planning a trip there. When we finally arrived at Golden Gate National Recreation area, we realized we would not make sunset at Rodeo Beach as we had planned. So instead, we headed back towards the Golden Gate Bridge stopping at some overlooks & were fortunate to grab a spot at one to watch the sunset by the Golden Gate Bridge. We then drove over the Golden Gate & stopped on the other side to get a closer view as rain started to come in. It was a very eerie but magnificent view. We then headed to our La Quinta Hotel in Oakland California where we rested for the night.


June 20, 2017

(50) Arcata Community Forest, California:

The next morning, we grabbed our complimentary breakfast & drove 5 hours north to find some Redwoods. We wanted to go to Redwood National Park, however due to the limits on dogs & not being able to see redwoods in the few locations dogs are allowed we opted for one of the few dog friendly areas that had Red Woods in Northern California. I had done a lot of research between blogs & using google earth to find different Red Wood areas/looking at the park rules (ultimately landing on Arcata Community Forest), but recently I came across a new article regarding dog-friendly areas for the Red Woods which can be helpful for others (click here).

Arcata Community Forest was close to the Pacific Coast by Humboldt State University. There are over a thousand acres of forest to explore that allow dogs on-leash. We hiked a mile trail (crossing athletic fields to make it a loop). It was a beautiful trail, with lots of down trees. It was amazing to finally see the Red Woods & I am glad Dexter got to enjoy it with us.

(51) Valley of the Rogue River State Park, Oregon:

We headed 3.5 hours north out of California into Oregon where we would camp for the night. The campground was a rest stop/state park combination along a major highway in the area. There were signs everywhere saying to keep your belongs safe/locked up & to not leave things unattended due to the high theft there. We had originally planned to explore a bit, but were deterred due to the signs, as well as the sheer lack of people there (there was only one other camper within our strip of the campground). So we decided to hit the hay early.



June 21, 2017

(52) Crater Lake National Park, Oregon:

We left the campground early & quickly in morning & drove 1.5 miles north to Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake offers some places to explore with your pups, the most popular being the ¼ of the Rim Trail that runs along Rim Village where you can view the lake. Other trails without the lake dogs are allowed in the Summer/Fall include; The Godfrey Glen Trail, The Lady of the Woods Trail; The Grayback Drive, & The Pacific Crest Trail (the official PCT, not the "alternate" PCT along the rim of the lake). Dogs are also allowed in parking lots & picnic areas. Due to the snow levels during our visit in 2017 there were very limited places you could go. The East & West Rim Roads were closed & there was only one way in & out of the park.

We arrived very early & right as the Park Ranger was arriving for the day. She was very kind & laughed as she saw Dexter go nuts for the snow (he had been in the desert just a few days before & seemed to be in disbelief that snow existed in June). After Dexter rolled around the snow for a bit & regained his willingness to explore, we headed for the snowbanks right on the Rim Trail (literally

pilled on the trail). No one else was around & we were able to climb to the top to see the stunning views of Crater Lake. All three of us stopped & were silent for a good while as we took in the stunning view, we had never seen anything so beautiful. Dexter was the first to break the silence by rolling in the snow again & having a blast slowly

rolling back down the hill toward the parking lot, then repeating the process over & over. We hiked along the snowbank covered trail & continued to be amazed, causing us to spend way longer there then we intended. However, it was well worth it & to this day one of my fondest memories from the trip. After returning there almost 4 years to the day on our honeymoon road trip this year & experiencing very little snow this time, I much prefer the snow-covered park we experienced in 2017.

(53) Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon:

After spending a long time at Crater Lake, we headed to the coast to Siuslaw National Forest. It was a 4.5 hour drive (due to the road closures at Crater Lake), but we were able to spend a good portion of it on US 101 on the Pacific Coast. Siuslaw National Forest is full of wonderful places to hike along the coast or within the forest. Plus, dogs are allowed almost everywhere on leash. We decided to go check out Thor’s Well along the Pacific Ocean for this trip.

It was a beautiful drive to Thor’s Well & we were happy to grab a parking spot at the overlook closest to it. There was a little hiking path down to the ocean to get up-close. Thor’s Well is a natural wonder that looks like a massive sinkhole filled with clams, going straight into the sea. At the right time of day you will just see tons of water flowing into the hole & at other points you will see the waves crash through it causing a fountain of water to explode out of it. When got to Thor’s Well we saw the waves crash up through the hole. It was a beautiful site & was great to hike along the rocky shoreline.

(53) Cape Disappointment:

After spending the afternoon in the Siuslaw National Forest, we did not have time to check out Cannon Beach/Ecola State Park. So, we headed to our next campsite in Washington. We drove along US 101 taking in the beautiful sites for 4.25 hours until we arrived at camp. When we arrived, we barely saw anyone, we saw tons of campers, vans, & tents but no people or animals. It was odd. However, we let it be & decided to walk the small path at our campsite to the shore. We hit the beach right at sunset & enjoyed the view, even though it was very windy. Then we had quite the interesting night & Dexter was the hero. I went into detail about this on our Adventure Tales blog, click here to read more.

June 22, 2017

(54) Kelly Butte Fire Lookout, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington:

The next morning, we quickly packed up, ate breakfast, & left the coast. We headed 4 hours to the Kelly Butte Fire Lookout in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Like many National Forest dogs are allowed practically everywhere on leash.

To get to the Fire Lookout we had to drive up the mountain, passed the shooting range, & to a road that lead to a small parking area beside the mountain. There was one other car there at the time we arrived, so we did not expect many others to be around. Sadly we hit a warmer part of the day making the trek up the switch backs more difficult with my asthma. The 1.5 miles trail took around 3 hours to get up due to the steep elevation. The trail was rated moderate, but I would say it was a moderate to difficult trail due to the steep elevation gain once you finished the switch backs. At many points our midwestern selves didn’t think we would make it, especially considering we are not used to this much elevation. However, we made it to the top & it was well worth it.

From the Fire Lookout you could see tons of mountains on a clear day, fortunately for us the heat was worth it as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. You can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, & more from the balcony of the Fire Lookout. There is even a book within the cabin you can write in when you visit. It was one of the most beautiful hikes we have done to date & a spot we hope to return to in the future.

(55) Seattle, Washington:

Due to time constraints we had to skip our stop at Snoqualmie Falls to head to Seattle to drop Dexter off at the hotel & meet up from friends from High School at a concert with of Joey Dosik & Theo Kastman (members of the band Vulfpeck who have their own music as well). Sadly, we didn’t really take pictures, but it was a great night listening to good music, catching up with friends, drinking, & heading out for food afterward. We didn’t have time to being tourists, but we enjoyed our time in Seattle with friends.

After a night of catching up & fun, we headed to our hotel for the night to find Dexter passed out/annoyed we had woken him up. We took him out for a potty break & went to bed ready for the next adventure.

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